Technology is revolutionising the world, and the way in which we operate. Cybernetics is easing the way we do things through the science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things. Together these concepts have and will continue to change the way we do and experience things.
Sports, for example, have been heavily influenced by technology and cybernetics; it has changed our viewing, participation and regulation of sport. According to Andy Miah, “sports is described as existing on a continuum of technological change”, the essence of sport is being modernised in many ways, and it interesting to break down some of the many components and investigate their future developments and enhancements to the sporting world.
The question has been brought to the forefront of the investigation of sports, technology and cybernetics. Does this mean our athletes are becoming Cyborgs in the sporting world? Are we now looking at the future culture or sport?
For the upcoming Digital Artefact, I endeavour to explore my profound interest in sports, wearables and technology through the production of a blog. The blog will take a particular focus on the influence of technology on sports and sports culture.
It will comprise of individual blog posts, which will have a weekly focus on one aspect of the sporting world and how technology and the digital age has influenced that particular area.
In some cases such as wearable technology, olympic cyborgs and drug testing, I will aim to draw a conclusion on the technological advancement, examining its overall benefits, if it proves to adhere to ethics and the rules, and lasting how it enhances or changes the abilities of the athlete and the overall sport.
Below is a breakdown of the topics that will lead my exploration into how technology and cybernetics are impacting sports and sports culture:
Singaporean commentator Walter Lim, explains the beneficial relationship of sport and social media, “the instantaneous, intimate and interactive nature of social and mobile technologies make them perfect platforms to fuel our sporting desires.”
Social media is an evident example of how technology is impacting sports culture. Technology has changed the way we consume sport, we are no longer a static observer. Through the introduction and widespread use of social media, sports fans can interact and participate in real-time discussion globally.
Platforms such as Twitter are a catalyst for international sports interaction. Through the composition of related #hashtags, the sporting community interacts and exchange opinions and ideas through a sub-community on the platform.
Through the use of our smartphones, mobile coverage allows a running feed from individuals watching from the comfort of their homes or those reporting at the game. Its instantaneous nature draws a wider means of communication between fans and their players/teams.
Real-time reporting and streaming have also changed the viewer experience. Allowing fans to access live coverage on designated television stations, streaming websites and individual sporting apps. Mobile coverage allows a running feed to occur besides the streaming website containing facts, live updates and opinions from courtside officials, journalists and spectators which gives fans the ultimate viewing experience.
How TO For Those who Don’t know how to stream sport online
With the addition of social media, fantasy sport is delivering an alternative experience for sports lovers. The sports industry has “emerged as a multi-billion dollar industry that has become an important element to the sports industry as a whole”. The Internet and its technology present a platform for sports lovers to take their loyalty to another level. Ronald B. Woods explains that the Internet “gives sport fans virtual access to sport in real time and on demand and allows them to create personal, specific methods of interaction”.
The fantasy world is an example of how technology and cyberculture have influenced the consumption and interaction in the sporting world. Now, we not only are viewing and commenting, but the fantasy world has given the opportunity to create our own teams from players in the sport, the opportunity to bet and play as our favourite players.
As a result of this, it is becoming increasingly larger all over the world, where companies such as Fox Sport, NBC etc. are investing in these online companies, as they are becoming a tool to generate an alternative audience and viewer traffic. Websites such as DraftKing and Super Coach are becoming increasingly popular and an integral part of the viewing and sports consumption.
For those who don’t know much about Fantasy sport check out these articles: https://www.forbes.com/sites/haroldstark/2017/12/09/what-is-daily-fantasy-sports-and-why-is-everyone-so-obsessed-with-it/#39400b41be3a
Technology, in particular, video technology, has changed the way referees conduct their positions on and off the field. Video technology has made refereeing and playback more efficient and reliable, it has allowed for decisions to be made quick, accurate and has created more of a level playing field.
Video technology does not leave room for error or foul play. The ability to review the performance on a screen and make reasonable judgements on performance, official calls etc. These playbacks have allowed coaches and analysts to review players and their performances, to generate statistics, which are not only made available for fans and used for fantasy sport, but they allow coaches to create player regimes to target and enhance a particular skillset.
“Sports is described as existing on a continuum of technological change, where technology becomes increasingly necessary as it becomes more apparent that the human body cannot sustain limitless, unaided enhancement”.
Wearable technology or ‘smart garments’ are associated with clothing and soft or hard accessories which integrate electronic components to aid, record/determine and measure athletes performance, and if need enables the athlete to operate in the correct way. We now see heart sensors, bionic arms, portable sensors, goal tickers, and the list goes on helping athletes advanced in their positions and act as another source of efficiency when training towards their given goals.
With the introductions of such wearable technology, scholars are acknowledging the increased presence of ‘cyborgs’ in the wider sports community and specifically the Special Olympics. It raises the questions of the benefits of wearable technology and the cyborg athlete and poses the opportunity for the further investigation of the benefits of wearable technology for athletes.
Until 1999 there was limited use of sophisticated drug testing across the sporting world.
Since then, with the introduction of WADA (World Anti Doping Agency) the push for drug testing and the technologies to investigate performance-enhancing drugs has put a stop and levelled the playing field for athletes. As a result of this, some of the largest scandals in the sporting world have been brought to light and investigated; an example of this is Lance Armstrong and his confession of drug enhancement and the Russian Doping Scandal.
Technology is now allowing the testing process to become more instant, with the introduction of on the sport mobile drug testing.
Professor Volecker explains with the new technology used, the results become increasingly accurate and the chance for a mix-up of results is removed. He explains, “These molecules are detected using a laser which blasts the high surface area material, sets the molecules free and they are then detected in a mass spectrometer”. The production and use of this technology will heighten the anti-doping campaign, in urge an to minimise the use and allowance of drugs in the Sports and the Olympic world.
Lastly, my investigations will be largely based on secondary research, from a range of scholars, athletes and individuals in the field of sports and sports technology. My aim is to create a blog that is easy for a range of people to understand how technology and cybernetics have influenced sports and sports culture. Through the use of a range of multimedia elements, I want to create an interactive blog, which explicitly shows the future cultures of the sporting world.